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"The Hormonal Hurdle: How Hormones Affect Your Weight Loss Journey"

Weight-Loss and Hormones: Hormones that Affect your Body’s Ability to Lose Weight

Have you ever pondered the reason why some people are able to lose weight with relative ease while others, despite their best efforts, continue to struggle? Their hormones might hold the key. When it comes to dropping pounds, hormones are key players.

One can think of hormones as chemical messengers released by our endocrine system that signals our cells and organs to perform various bodily functions. The hormones are released by various glands directly into the bloodstream from where they travel all over the body signaling cells and tissues to perform different functions. They include everything from our mood and energy levels to our metabolism and appetite.

The Connection between Hormones and Weight Loss

There are several ways by which hormones can affect weight-loss. Some hormones, for instance, increase our appetite and encourage us to eat more, while others cause us to feel full and discourage us from eating any further. Some hormones promote fat storage, while others encourage fat loss. Therefore, keeping our hormones in check is fundamental to keeping our weight in the normal range.

In this blog we will discuss different hormones, their role in weight loss and how we can control their levels.

Insulin- The Storage Hormone

Insulin, a hormone released by the pancreas that regulates glucose levels and metabolism of fats. The pancreas releases insulin in response to increased glucose concentration in our blood after we eat a meal. Insulin signals the cells of our body to take up carbohydrates from bloodstream and use it for energy or store it. Another important function of insulin is related to its role in fat storage. When our insulin levels are high, our body is more likely to store excess calories as fat.

Insulin resistance is a condition in which the cells of our body stop responding to insulin, leading to elevated levels of glucose in our body. In response to excess glucose the pancreas secretes more insulin to compensate which further promotes fat storage and inhibits lipolysis. Regular physical activity, healthy sleeping habits and low sugar diets can maintain insulin in optimum range helping in weight loss.

Leptin

Leptin is a hormone secreted by fat cells during digestion that signals the brain to decrease hunger and speed up the metabolic rate. In contrast, leptin resistance develops in the body of those who are overweight or obese, preventing the hormone from sending the brain's "stop eating" signal. If you are resistant to leptin, your brain may not get the signal and you may eat even when you are not hungry. Try getting adequate sleep, lowering the amount of stress in your life, and staying away from processed meals if you want to boost your leptin sensitivity and support weight reduction.

Ghrelin

Ghrelin hormone is the exact opposite of leptin. The release of this hormone by the stomach increases appetite by sending signals to the brain that your stomach is empty. The levels of ghrelin are higher when you are dieting or have an empty stomach. If you have high ghrelin levels, you may feel hungry more often, making it difficult to keep to a calorie-restricted diet. Eat protein-rich meals, get adequate sleep, and avoid sugary and processed foods to lower ghrelin levels.

Cortisol-The Stress Hormone

Cortisol is a stress-related hormone generated by our adrenal glands. It aids our bodies' "fight or flight" reaction by raising our heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. Normal levels of cortisol ae important for our body to control stress. Chronic stress, on the other hand, may result in chronically elevated cortisol levels, which can drive our bodies to accumulate additional fat, particularly in the abdominal region. Reducing stress, getting enough sleep, regular exercise, and meditation can keep the levels of cortisol in optimum range.

Estrogen

Estrogen, a hormone produced by the ovaries, has a role in the maintenance of bone density and the regulation of the menstrual cycle. Changes in this hormone's levels occur throughout the menstrual cycle, as well as during pregnancy, and menopause. Low estrogen levels associated with ageing, perimenopause, and menopause may have an impact on body weight and fat. The elevated levels of estrogen on the other hand are associated with weight gain especially around the trunk region of the body. Estrogen levels can be controlled through balanced diet and regular exercise.

Testosterone

Testosterone is a hormone that is mostly generated in the testicles of men and the ovaries of women. It is in charge of the development of masculine physical characteristics such as muscular mass, facial and body hair, and a deeper voice. Testosterone levels may also influence weight reduction. Studies indicate that men with reduced testosterone levels tend to have higher levels of body fat and a greater likelihood of being obese. Low testosterone levels are not only associated with an increase in weight gain, but it also makes it harder to lose weight. A lack of testosterone causes the body to store more fat. You already have low testosterone levels, and this extra fat hinders your body's capacity to manufacture and properly use the hormone. Regular physical activity, weightlifting, eating a balanced diet rich in proteins, and getting adequate sleep can significantly improve testosterone levels.

Neuropeptide Y

Neuropeptide Y is a hormone released by specialized brain cells to control appetite, stress, and energy balance. Owing to its ability to regulate appetite the Neuropeptide Y has a role in obesity and weight gain. The increased levels of this hormone can lead to fat storage, especially in the abdominal region leading to obesity. Regular exercise and intake of food that has low sugar and fats can help keep the levels of this hormone in optimum range.

Glucagon-like peptide-1

Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is an intestinal hormone that stimulates sensations of fullness and satiety. In addition, it helps regulate blood sugar levels by delaying glucose absorption into the circulation. Furthermore, it also stimulates pancreatic cells to produce insulin and delays stomach emptying. Certain diabetes medications called GLP-1 agonists can increase GLP-1 levels and promote weight loss. Eating a protein rich diet and yogurt has been shown to increase GLP-1 levels.

Cholecystokinin

The hormone cholecystokinin, often known as CCK, is released by cells in the small intestine and is involved in appetite control and digestion. It promotes the secretion of bile and digestive enzymes like amylase and lipase.  Similar to GLP-1, it promotes satiety and fullness by telling our brains to stop eating. Some individuals have a decreased sensitivity to CCK, which causes them to overeat and ultimately become obese, both of which may contribute to a decreased sensitivity to CCK. A diet high in proteins and low in fats may raise CCK levels and, therefore, feelings of fullness. Regular exercise is also crucial for keeping CCK at optimal levels.

Peptide YY

Peptide YY, often known as PYY, is a hormone that is generated by the intestines and is responsible for suppressing hunger and lowering food consumption. It is secreted in reaction to the presence of food in the stomach and small intestine, and its levels may stay increased for many hours after a meal, which results in decreased appetite for eating. According to studies, individuals with excess fat have decreased levels of PYY, which causes them to have an increased appetite leading to overeating. It is considered that adequate levels of PYY have a significant effect in lowering the amount of food consumed and the risk of becoming obese. According to research, increasing the levels of PYY may be accomplished by both resistance exercise and a diet that is abundant in proteins and fats.

Growth Hormone

The pituitary gland in the brain produces growth hormone, which has the functions of promoting growth, cell repair, and metabolism. Additionally, it promotes fat burning by stimulating lipase, an enzyme that breaks down fats in adipose tissues, while also helping to maintain lean muscle mass. Studies have revealed that individuals who are obese tend to have lower levels of growth hormone as compared to those who maintain a healthy weight. Insufficient levels of growth hormone can lead to the buildup of fat in the abdominal region and internal organs. Getting enough sleep, maintaining a consistent exercise routine, and following a balanced diet that is low in sugars can help boost growth hormone levels and facilitate weight loss.

 Dopamine- The Pleasure Hormone

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is naturally produced by our body in response to pleasant activities, such as eating, exercising, or socializing. People who have low levels of dopamine tend to rely on food and stimulants to experience feelings of happiness and satisfaction. One issue with this is that individuals frequently consume sugary foods such as chocolate, candy, and energy drinks to trigger the release of dopamine, which can result in an unhealthy lifestyle and obesity. Maintaining optimum levels of dopamine can be aided by limiting sugar and caffeine intake, as well as avoiding stress.

Epinephrine and Norepinephrine

The adrenal glands release hormones known as epinephrine and norepinephrine. The hormones responsible for the body's "fight or flight" response to stress are collectively called catecholamines. They cause an elevation in heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. During a stressful situation, the body requires additional energy to either fight or flee. Catecholamines provide additional energy by breaking down glycogen and stored fat, which helps with weight loss. Engaging in regular exercise and maintaining healthy sleep habits can boost the levels of epinephrine and norepinephrine in the body.

Conclusion

Hormones are essential for maintaining a healthy metabolism, promoting weight loss, and contributing to overall well-being. Studies indicate that maintaining a balanced diet, getting sufficient sleep, and engaging in regular exercise can effectively regulate hormones and facilitate weight loss. We can attain sustainable weight loss and enhance our overall health and well-being by adopting a healthy lifestyle and prioritizing hormonal balance.

References

Author
David Bauder David J. Bauder, PA-C David Bauder, PA-C, is a certified physician assistant and the assistant medical director at Weight Loss and Vitality in Manassas and Alexandria, Virginia, Washington, DC; and Gaithersburg, MD. He enjoys helping patients optimize their physical and mental health to improve their overall well-being. He earned his physician assistant degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Afterward, he gained admission into the reputable graduate program for physician assistant studies at the University of Nebraska Health Science Center in Omaha. David has over 26 years of experience working as a physician assistant. He’s practiced in podiatry, family medicine, emergency medicine, general surgery, urgent care, and functional medicine.

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